WASHINGTON: Former National Football League (NFL) star Michael Vick has agreed to do advocacy work for the Humane Society of the US, possibly including speaking engagements and the retraining of pit bulls.
Vick's work could also include patrolling urban areas with anti-dogfighting teams, said Michael Markarian, COO of the Humane Society, who added that details of the former quarterback's work have yet to be finalized.
"What we have agreed to is that we really want this to be a long-term commitment to boots-on-the-ground education and community-based work," he said. "We felt that just doing an ad or a PSA would not be enough."
Vick, who pleaded guilty to charges of bankrolling a dogfighting ring in 2007, was released from prison this week. Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, said earlier this month that Vick will have to demonstrate remorse to gain reinstatement. The former Atlanta Falcons star is working for a construction company as part of his release while under home confinement.
A combination of work with the Humane Society and post-prison construction labor could improve Vick's public image, said Gene Grabowski, SVP at Levick Strategic Communications, which does not work with the athlete.
"In and of itself, working with the Humane Society would not be enough, but combined with him being seen working hard on the construction site and… contributing to other efforts in the community could be effective," he said. "There should be videos and pictures of [the construction work], and we'll be able to see him literally working his way into the good graces of football fans and society."
Vick could also be an effective spokesperson for the Humane Society because of his life story, Grabowski added.
"The converts are always more powerful advocates than people who have been faithful all along," he said.